Padharo Mare Des – Part 2

‘Rann of Kutch and Ancient Gujarat’.

India was believed to be not only a land of gold but an ancient civilization, too. It has variety in its topography. Mountains on one side and the Arabian Sea on others. The diversity doesn’t end there. It has a mountain range in between in the form of the Sahyadri range in Maharashtra but also has desert-like Rann in Gujarat and Rajasthan. This blog is about our bike ride’s next part through Rann and to find the peculiarity of this region.

All pics in this blog are courtesy Hitendra Patel, Vivek Mallya and me

Continued from Padharo Mare Des 1. If you haven’t read the first part, here is a link, to know the background of this part well enough to dip in Gujarat’s vibrancy.
https://nomadsnomadism.com/2020/08/15/padharo-maro-des-part-1/
continued from part 1…
Day 5 (22nd February): Radhanpur to Dholavira 196 km

Transformation to Harappan civilization
Always there is a sunrise after night. Today’s ride was going to be taking the same path. The excitement of witnessing Rann of Kutch was at a peak. Except for the regular breakfast stop on highway, we were cruising. Locking our hand on the escalator as hardly there were any vehicles on the way or not many signs of civilization. We had decided not to take many stops, but who were we to decide. The topography of the terrain didn’t even allow us to stop. Hardly any tree shelter on the side. We could feel the heat and hot winds bashing us from the front. It was almost the end of the season to visit Rann. Randhanpur to Dholavira was just a two-lane highway at many places, but the road was like a baby’s bums, smooth and straight stretches. After lunch, we almost touched the actual Rann. We just wanted to aubmerge in its sight. Someone who arent like us would have wondered what’s there in marshy land or salty water, but for me, it was a vast expanse of land and you can sketch anything on the canvass depending on your imagination. Also, a feeling of what lies beyond that expanse is a different country, just divided by a line which countries draw, otherwise, there rest people, exactly same like this side of the boundary.

A long stretch of the road till Khavda

I was in my own thoughts and enjoying my ride without braking or extra thrust to the engine as if like, I am in in hurry at all to reach the destination. The true spirit of a motorcycling – ‘ We travel to ride and not ride to travel.’ Once you understand the actual meaning of the sentence, you won’t enjoy any two-wheeler or a long ride.

of the tempted resting spot on the road


My partners were itching to check the power of their engines, especially Vivek as he had a speed machine to ride which could easily touch 160 kph and still stable. Not only that, but he was also an experienced rider and not young blood who craves speed to impress others. I asked them to go for full power. All these days, they were adjusting with me and my 90/100 KMPH speed or sometimes lesser than that. I could feel the uneasiness. He shot like a bullet. He was going to wait for us at the destination which was hardly 50/40 Kms. We continued cruising. After reaching by evening, we didn’t have any option but to relax and wait for one of the old wonders reveal in front of us. We parked ourselves in a peculiarly designed GTDC (Gujarat Tourism Development Corporation) dome-shaped cottages to give relief tourist from heat released from Rann and interior decorated tastefully to showcase Saurashtra (Erstwhile separate Kingdome ruled by the king as a representative of British during their Raj, now part of Gujarat state and India). The resort also arranges desert safaris on a camel or in jeep. We had heard a Migratory bird sanctuary nearby, but looking at our schedule, it was difficult to cover that as well in our current trip.


For a tourist to reach Dholavira, By Road: Reach Bhuj by flight, road, or rail. Sakkhaiala and Bachau railway stations on any Bhuj bound train is closer to Rapar or you can take a bus From Bhuj to Rapar, a nearest town by bus which takes 5 hours. From Rapar, take a government bus or cab which runs from early morning till evening.
Where to stay: GTDC’s stay facility is the best.

Day 6 (23rd February): Dholavira – Rest day

It was a moment of reaching the pulse of Mohen jo Daro era civilization

Dholavira:

We were excited about a wonder from 1000s of years back which was going to unfold in front of us. Peeping in past always excited me. After India’s partisan, mohenjo daro, a historical Harappan site which was discovered in 1922 went to Pakistan side of the divided country.Post partisan, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru ordered the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) to search for such sites in India as we are part of the same civilization that prevails across this part of the continent. ASI found various sites all over India, but what they found in Kutch was almost from the same Indus Valley Civilization and era. This city was named Dholavira, situated at Khadir bet and locally known as ‘Kota Da Limba’ means a fort. Coincidently this location is on the Tropic of Cancer. The city is spread across approximately 120 acres.  This city was considered as one of the five largest cities of Indus Valley Civilization. The whole city lays between two seasonal streams – Mansar and Manhar. 

Guide creating visual of ancient city of Dholavira

This most prominent site of Harappan civilization showcases an excellent example of water harvesting in a region where scarcity of water is a usual problem. As per the mapping of the whole site, the excavated city was founded on multiple steps. To provide water to citizens settled on these steps, water was diverted from these two seasonal streams to 3 dams (which are discovered so far), so that it can be stored throughout the year. These dams were built in such a way that not a single drop of water gets wasted. Water from the first dam located on the top step of the city channeled to that particular cluster of city nestled at top step. Water was diverted through well-arranged canals and extra water channeled in a next dam or water reservoir located at the lower step of city which provides water to the lower cluster of houses at levels below first. One can guess, the cluster formation and division must be as per the caste system of Indian society depending on their profession. The top must be for the Royals and its courtesans on the top steps and lower caste at the lowest level, but rulers didn’t ignore the lowest cast and provided them all possible means of life – water, food, and shelter. Every step not only had excellent water conservation but also its own defense system, streets and connected with ramparts about sixteen metres high. 

City spread at three levels
Water conservation’s efforts

As per carbon dating, the city was founded, occupied, and flourished from 3500 BCE and declined from 2100 BCE and again occupied till 1000 BCE. In today’s progress, this may not sound like a big achievement where one can travel to another part of the world easily.

Plinths of houses
innovative interlocking slates

As per carbon dating, the city was founded, occupied, and flourished from 3500 BCE and declined from 2100 BCE and again occupied till 1000 BCE. In today’s progress, this may not sound like a big achievement where one can travel to another part of the world easily.

Channels to route water to parts
Water reservoir to supply water for
one part of the city
Stone fossil dating back BCE. The place is littered with this and many such pieces of evidence of past

When one walks on the remains and debris of the lost city, if you dive deep in the city’s mind, you can feel the vibrations of emotions of people reaching from 1000s of years who were born, grew, lived, loved, and died. Flourished and decimated. Reached highs of their joys and lows of decline. War cries of soldiers and cries of the deceased. When you reach such sites, you should open your mind with the inner eye to feel the crux of the land.   

Every Indian should visit this site as one of the wonders from the past. Though the site Is tucked away in the farthest corner of India near Pakistan border which is hardly a few hundred km across Great Rann of Kutch. Surprisingly, we found hardly any tourists, but the well-preserved site is a fine example of the governments’ efforts. To promote tourism, Gujrat Government’s Tourism board has taken special efforts for easy access by building well-maintained roads to this place and creating an infrastructure for comfortable stay very close by.

Day 7 (24th February): Dholavira – Bhuj – Kalo Dunger – 330 km.  

It was time to come back to today’s world and ride to the next destination. With a day’s rest, our body, and our means, bikes with refreshed mind after visiting our glorious past, we moved to Bhuj and beyond. For a long, Bhuj is a center of trade and commerce of Kutch and a fine example of Phoenix rising of ashes. Once collapsed and shattered in the 1956 earthquake, now stands tall and back to its flourished avatar is an important city of Gujarat which is the closest stronghold to the Pakistan border in this part. The region is guarded by Border Security Force and its area commanding HQ with its battalions spread across Kachchh gives an Indian citizen a secure feeling from our troublesome erstwhile brother turned foe.

For an enthusiast would like to go for offroading after permissions from BSF, Rann roads are enticing

As the roads were at its best to make sure of security forces movements to border without wasting time when needed, we cruised at a consistent speed. We had one more objective to reach Bhuj to visit BSF HQ. We came to know from locals about permissions needed to reach beyond Kalo Dungar and to visit the last point in Indian territory which is known as India Bridge. As this area is under BSF’s guard, the permissions are issued from HQ. I had and planned to visit every border of India, so was keen on visiting this as well. Whichever border, I had visited earlier, felt proud as it’s a reminder to us, here our brave soldiers guard our country against enemies, but not everything can go as per plan which we witnessed at Bhuj. The officer who issues permission, wasn’t available and we had to scrap the plan, but we were cajoled by other officials that, you can ride till Kalo Dungar without permission and which is not that far from the border, just 30/40 km away. Also, the last point which we wanted to visit is just a point and nothing beyond that, but a Rann as that area is covered with water and marshy land. You can not see anything but a vast land. Armed with this information, we zoomed past the Rann as we had another information about Kalo Dungar. Kalo Dungar (Black mountain): We rushed to witness the man-made tradition of more than 400 years old at Kalo Dungar. A sole mountain of about 500 meters standing tall and alone at Rann, can be used as a watchtower to keep an eye for any movement across the border but had no importance as hardly there is any intrusion from another side on this front like states of J & K and Punjab. This is a much calmer border. Though our yesterday’s rest point is right across the Rann water, due non-availability of connecting land, we had to take a long detour of 300 km.

Barren land on both sides from Khadir Bet

Kalo Dungar has Lord Dattatreya temple which is approximately 400 years old on the hilltop. You can drive your vehicle to the temple. We heard stories on the way that some years back, vehicles were hurtled from the hill on its own. Though no concrete proof was found and we decided to ride our own vehicles as we had an experience of Maharashtra ghats like Malshej on which roads are narrow and sometimes dangerous during monsoon. We couldn’t find any such feeling of our uncontrolled ride, but we found road conditions as bad, contrasting to the rest of Gujarat. The rumor must be because in this state, there are no ghats that challenge drivers and they may not know how to maneuver turns at any Ghat section and couldn’t control their vehicles. Another story was ‘Jackals’ lunch’. There are a couple of legends for this story. One is related to Lord Dattatreya, the divine incarnation of Trinity gods in Hindus – Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh walked on earth at this hill and saw jackals of Rann starving. He offered them his body parts to feed them and those body parts regrew. Another story of his one of the devotees in the same way. Whatever the stories were, the priests of the temple for 4 centuries keep meal for jackals which walk in the desert to relish themselves almost every day and that ritual happens at 12 o’clock in the afternoon. We were rushing to witness the same. Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach on time and when we reached, we could see the last couple of jackals walking away at some distance. Even if we couldn’t witness the ritual but we relished on the 360 degrees view of Rann spread on all sides of the mountain. As per our plan, we had decided to stay put at the temple’s Dharamshala. Perhaps, the manager hadn’t come across any other occupant than devotees who wandered a few hundred km away from the nearest town of Bhuj this far and seeing bikers there was the rarest sight. 

Sunset from Kalo Dungar on Rann

After spending an hour, we moved to continue our journey to another side of Rann and our tonight’s resting point. We had to return from Kalo Dungar as we couldn’t get a permit to visit India Bridge, the last point as mentioned before and which lied about a few km away from this place. 

How to reach Kalo Dunger: By road, it’s connected to Bhuj and with excellent road conditions, you can cover this distance in 3/4 hours. You can book a cab from Bhuj. Where to stay: You can stay at the temple’s Dharamshala, if you are planning to visit only this place which is not a great option to select from. You can plan a 2/3 night trip covering other attractions given below.  

  Day 8 (25th February): Kalo Dunger – Mata no Madh – Kot Lakhpat – Narayan Sarovar  – Koteshwar Temple –  345 km    

Today was the day when we had to travel a long distance and to cover many places than visited in a few days on a single day. We left early keeping in mind the same as we had taken enough rest yesterday because we reached in the afternoon and spent a relaxed evening. All three of us were complementing each other’s riding style or adjusting with my slow riding speed of 70-90 KMPH. Actually, it was a big adjustment for both of them, but as I have mentioned earlier, I love to ride at leisure than racing. My riding style is travel for not reaching the destination, but enjoying the travel.  Maata no madh:We moved to Mata Nu Madh which just 122 km away. Though today we had to cover just 200 km, our ride was broken in many smaller rides. We had decided, not to spend too much time at any of the religious places. Our first stop was Mata-No-madh.

Mata no Madh – a quick stop

I had seen this goddess’ and the temple’s image in many Kutchi community’s shops in Mumbai. Ashapura Mata. So finally it was time to visit a temple dedicated to Ashapura Mata, the deity of erstwhile Kutch’s state’s rulers, the Jadeja dynasty. Which also is a patron deity of Kutch. Our interest was more in structure than the religious purpose. The temple has faced a couple of earthquakes, one in 1819 and another in 2001, but was reaired again. Deity  Ashapura Mata is carved in red-painted stone, about six feet high and six feet broad at the base

Ashapura Mata

mirroring a human form. We met long-bearded males from Bhuvas, a caste who enjoys revenue from the temple. Other being Kapadi caste without any facial hair. Both this caste came to this area thousands of years back. At the courtyard, you can see a huge bell offered by a Shah of Sindh to gain back his army’s sight when they tried to attack the temple. Thus, the temple had followers from both major religions of regions – Hindus as well as Muslim rulers.

Gujrat state is not known for its forts like its neighboring states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. This state is was more a peaceful state as it doesn’t have a bloodied history and rulers didn’t have to encroach other states, so you can not see many forts built across the current Gujarat state to control the territory. Having said that, in our course, our next destination was Kot Lakhpat, a fort at the extreme border of India, next to Sir creek which is infamous for smuggling across border. 

Kot Lakhpat’s protective wall


Kot Lakhpat As the name suggests a place of the rich, ‘Lakhpati’ (a person who owns lacs of Rupees).

When we were planning for this ride, as mentioned earlier we had taken all 4 corners of Gujarat taken into consideration to visit. Google map had mentioned about this name at the extreme end of the map beyond any big city.

I have a couple of friends who are from Bhuj and they supplied valuable information. Once a prosperous place not more than a few hundred years old now turned a minuscule shadow of its past. To gain prosperity takes a lot many years and to loose sheen, it takes very few years. Today this town is almost deserted barring few residents who are facing hardship and living in shadows of its own glory. No employment or fertile land for farming. If one studies the cases of glorious settlements, either you will find them settled at the center point where people from all across directions come and trade or at some important religious place or if there is any big water settlement is next to that land. Kot Lakhpat is an example of a later. As Dholavira is part of the ancient Indus civilization, the Indus river used to flow from very close to this deserted town. Farming and trading aided the locals to become millionaires and making this town a place of millionaires (Lakhpat). As per history, traders sailed from Iran and Gulf through the Persian Gulf and the Arabian sea to this town and across this stretch till Dwarka and unload their goods of carpets, pearls, and Arabian horses and in turn, carried gold spices, tea, silk. Through this route, goods reached up to Rome and European markets. 

When we explored more and chatted with locals around, dug out a story of the 7 km long wall covering the place. When Kot Lakhpat was striving, rulers felt the necessity of protection from robbers across the Kori and Sir creek where the two countries are divided currently. The erstwhile ruler and his administrator looted another neighboring prosperous town – Pir when its Muslim ruler was on a pilgrimage to Hajj. Through the ancestral stories carried from generations, Villagers believe this was a bad omen because looting someone who is performing a religious deed curses the wealth and looters can not enjoy the loot for long. They end up in ruins. This is the main reason for Kot Lakhpat’s dwindling prosperity.

This was more a psychological reason, but what causes its real declining fortunes of Kot Lakhpat was the earthquake of 1819 which crumpled the wall of the fort and thus damaging the houses inside. The earthquake not only damaged the wall, but made a significant geographical change in the area. Indus river changed Its course and collapsing the trade route. Residents started migrating to other flourishing places abandoning the town. One can not stop thinking anything but the curse of loot.

When you explore this fort, still you can see some intact parts of the fort wall narrating stories of the glorious past.  From one of the high point, you can see expansive Rann and the Arabian sea beyond. On a clear night, you can see the lights of Karachi port at far. Yes! Karachi port of Pakistan which is on the same shore approximately a few hundred km away as crows flying distance. 

Kot Lakhpat is a mixture of three major religions of India -Hindu, Muslim, and Sikhism. Historically this area is ruled by Hindu kings, administered by Muslim administrators. This town is blessed by Guru Nanak’s presence, founder of the Sikh religion. Before finally moving to Mecca, Guru Nanak stayed at Kot Lakhpat. Gurudwara at this place holds very high religious significance in Sikh devotees heart as the Lakhpat Gurudwara trust also holds some of Guru Nanak’s original possessions. When I mentioned about Sangam of three religious cultures, The Sufi Dome is one fine example. A Sufi Pir who practiced both Hindu and Muslim religions is buried here. To travel to this uniquely significant place, you will have to travel from Bhuj by traveling 130 km in a rented car. Though GTDC yatri niwas truly represents the ghost town is not worth staying, but there are very few staying facility and Gurudwara also offers a basic stay facility without expecting anything from tourists.

We too didn’t have any intentions of holding our horses (bikes in our case) and staying here to see Karachi port’s lights as our next destination was waiting at hardly 40 km.

Narayan Sarovar: One of the 5 important sacred lakes for Hindus. Named after Lord Vishnu, a naturally formed lake at Sindhu river’s meeting point in the Arabian sea is hardly 4 km from Koteshwar temple. With several temples built of various Gods and Goddesses on the bank of Narayan Sarovar, this becomes a pilgrimage for a holy dip for sadhus and devotees.  The main temple built in Sandstone is fortified with a 3000 ft wall like Koteshwar Mahadev’s wall. This lake is mentioned in King Alexander’s diaries when he attacked Hindustan.

Holy Narayan Sarovar

Our visit to this Sarovar was a brief one as we were planning to cover the distance till Koteshwar temple and heard about better-staying facilities around the temple. 

Koteshwar Mahadev: Standing tall against the crashing waves of the Arabian sea on its fortified walls on the Western side, this temple has legends connected to Ravana from Ramayan and his worshipping devotion of Shiv. The temple is standing on a Self emerged (swayambhoo). On one of the walls, writing connects to the rebuilding year of the temple i.e. 1820 by two local businessmen Kshatris caste.

Koteshwar Temple

The temple is beautifully crafted in stone found locally. With other god and goddess surrounding him like Parvati, Hanuman, Ganapati on the wall, the Shivling emerges from the earth of about 4/5 feet tall. Allauddin Khilji when attacked Hindustan, demolished many temples, tried to demolish this Shivling as well. As per priests, the marks on the Ling are by pointed nails on his order. They couldn’t destroy it, so left without success.

The location of the temple is surrounded by the other three sides with walls ready to defend from enemies with 3 small guns. The reason for this wall must be the location of the temple which is next to Cori creek.

This temple is nicely maintained by Trust with a garden around it with green grass.

Though the temple was last rebuilt in 1820, many rulers of this area renovated this temple.

This is a perfect place for catching up a Sunset on the Arabian sea. When you travel from Bhuj to cover earlier two attractions – Mata nu Madh and Kot Lakhpat, you can visit this temple. 

This is the only place in Lakhpat Taluka, where there are lodges and dharamshalas are available to stay. We had the same intention. 

If you plan a trip of to days in this Lakhpat taluka of Bhuj, can cover these 5 places – Kalo Dugar, Mata nu Madh, Kot Lakhpaat, Narayan Sarovar, and Koteshwar Mahadev which are around in 350 km vicinity from Bhuj. Bhuj is well connected with Ahmedabad and Mumbai by rail and by air with Mumbai. Roads in this area are not that bad. As the matter of fact, the roads are not bad at all, in Gujarat except few areas where industries are located and due to heavy vehicle traffic.    

Sunset of the day to end Part 2 of Padharo Mare Des

We continued our exploration ride from this Ancient part of the country to the land of temples like Dwarka, Beautiful beaches of Diu, and Lions with rich wildlife of Gir Lion Sanctuary.
Thanks for showing patience to read these two parts through our perspective.

Do keep on reading..

20 Replies to “Padharo Mare Des – Part 2”

  1. Hey Rajesh, we share the same passion but what you do is what we dream of. Thanks for these blogs which makes us experience all the things we are suppose to do while doing all the stupid things we do 🙂 Keep rocking!

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  2. Beautiful journey beautifully expressed in words…keep writing Rajesh..enjoyed reading..

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  3. I was planning this road trip to Rann of Kutch and that part of Gujarat for quite a long time… This write up gives me clear picture about how to plan this trip and will be helpful for my future expeditions… Thank you 👍

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  4. Wow!!!!getting lots of Information of Padharo Mhare Desh.Lovely,detailed Discription of Rann is really nice. Nice Part 1 and 2.Photography, is also classy …From ur Blogs,one can easily visualized our ancient Rich Indian topography and d modern Facilities of that era.

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  5. Rajesh as usual, write up is good, will surely help those who are planning to go to the Rann of Kuch, what all did you see in that Kot Lakhpat Gurudwara, if you have any pictures please share, loved reading this blog also.

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    1. Unfortunately, note as it was closed due to unknown reasons when we reached. We came to know its importance when we reached the next destination.

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